vanessa-newVanessa Remmers covers Stafford County government and schools for and The Free Lance-Star.

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Shutdown stalls new Stafford breweries

Two new microbreweries that are hoping to open in Stafford County are victims of the partial government shutdown, too.

Most us probably aren’t familiar with the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, an arm of the Treasury Department, but it’s a big part of the growing craft beer industry. The bureau must approve new applications and process permits for breweries, recipes and labels.

But since it’s closed, some craft breweries around the country can’t sell new brews, others can’t donate a new recipe for a charity event, and for those that aren’t even open, process has slowed.

Adventure Brewing and Short’s Branch Brewery have said they want to open in Stafford, now that microbreweries are allowed under the county’s zoning rules. (And Stafford is also in the midst of reducing the fees that breweries would be charged for special exception permits>)

But plans are on hold.

“The shut down has impacted our search dramatically,” Adventure Brewing co-founder John Viarella said in an email. “Although we have found several potential sites, we are wary of signing a lease with the federal government being shut down.” The three homebrewers that started the company previously said they’d hoped to open in January, after finding a space, and getting state and federal permits.

“We are disappointed with this unnecessary delay in our business planning and hope that our elected representatives resolve their differences as quickly as possible,” he said.

Everett Lovell, owner of Aquia Pines Camp Resort, also the future home of Short’s Branch Brewing, said that he can’t get federal paperwork processed.

“I have entered information into the federal web site, but am not getting responses,” said Lovell.

He said he paid a $1,300 fee to the county since the reduced rate has not been set, and he has a meeting set with the Board of Zoning Appeals later this month. Lovell is not worried about getting an ABC permit from Virginia, since he has had a beer permit for 28 years for the campground.

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